Havelock News
  • Recalling those 'Animal House' road trips

  • These first hot days of the year conjure up bushel baskets of memories, most especially of years at Chapel Hill.
  • These first hot days of the year conjure up bushel baskets of memories, most especially of years at Chapel Hill. I lived "Animal House" days from 1959 to 1963.
    When the weather turned toward southern summer, the first order of business was to get color back on our pasty-white bodies. That hasnít changed.
    Yesterday I saw my shining legs in the mirror. Before I can wear shorts Iíll probably need a permit from the sheriff. I donít want to go "to the terror of the public."
    Back then we used stuff from Johnson & Johnson. Conventional wisdom was to mix iodine with baby oil and slather in it. Too much iodine and we came out looking like participants in Rust-Oleum commercials.
    Spring brought cherry blossoms and beach music. To say the Atlantic Beach "beckoned" me is a gross understatement. It screamed!
    As a freshman I couldnít have my car on campus so I often flew home. The round-trip fare from Raleigh-Durham to New Bern was $23.99.
    I remember the exact cost because I got to spend almost exactly 24 hours home. At a buck an hour it was a huge bargain, although Dad and Mom probably questioned my value system. Iím surprised they thought I had one of those.
    But any port in a storm, so there were other party options closer than the beach. Right down the road in Raleigh, Jim Thorntonís Dancehall was known for having great entertainment.
    The little town of Faison attracted students from all over to its weekly shindigs held in a pickle factory. "Hattie and the Blue Notes" were my favorite headliners. It cost a dollar for the night, and the admission on my hand saying "DILL" took a few days to disappear. They used very good ink.
    Durham had a very cool place under a street. In homage to Dukeís law school, it was called the "Null & Void." It was always packed. I think their motto was, "if itís wide enough for 100 people, itís deep enough for 200."
    I pledged a real "Animal House." My fraternity was the only one I could afford but turned out to be an absolute blast.
    Our house was old and rickety. When we had parties, the floors would often sag. I became pretty expert at moving car jacks around for instant repairs while band and dancers thumped above my head.
    In later years, I realized the thing couldíve collapsed on me in a heartbeat, but at the time it didnít enter my mind. Again ahead of my time, I was one of the original "Expendables."
    Every now and then right out of the blue, the term "road trip" might find its way into our conversations and weíd take off, sometimes to Atlantic Beach. Going through Havelock, Iíd hide in the "crash position" until we cleared the town as to avoid being found out by my parents.
    Page 2 of 2 - I vainly tried to be careful to little avail. Without cell phones, Twitter or an Internet, bad news about me seemed to travel home with lightning speed. Freaky.
    Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at ogardner@embarqmail.com.
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